PEORIA -- Althoff wing Jordan Goodwin has dreamed of this moment since it slipped away last season against St. Joseph in the title game.
Every night, Goodwin has laid his head down on the pillow and thought about hoisting the 3A first-place trophy. He's thought about making it to the top. Being the best. Staying the best.
Every morning, Goodwin has reminded himself of last year's near miss. How close they were. The hurt he felt.
That's been the motivator day in and day out. The motivation to attack every workout, every practice and every game with an unmatched level of effort, determination and toughness.
On Friday, Goodwin's efforts were rewarded - as Althoff took down St. Joseph 66-62 in the 3A semifinals. Goodwin tore through the team that beat the Crusaders twice last season with a game-high 25 points and 15 rebounds.
"I feel pretty good," Goodwin said after the victory. "We lost to them twice. Making them feel how we felt last year - it feels pretty good."
But Goodwin knows that feeling is only temporary. He'll start Saturday morning off just like any other day - only this time, with a chance to make his dream a reality and only Lincoln-Way West standing in his way.
"I'm still going to wake up and think about the loss last year. Now that I've got the opportunity to win tomorrow at 2 o'clock, it's time to change that," Goodwin said. "It's time to get my first ring. It's time to get our first ring together as a whole team."
"I'm going to play the hardest I've ever played in my whole life."
Althoff has had a sparkling season with a 31-2 record. Goodwin has been the brightest star, and he's shined as bright as any at this level. On Thursday, Goodwin was named to the Associated Press 3A first-team and received more votes than anyone on the ballot.
It was just one year ago when Goodwin made a name for himself on the Peoria stage. Now, he deserves the title of the best overall talent in the state.
"I think that's just working hard in the offseason. And my team is great too," Goodwin said. "We're all just one unit right now."
That unit - like the player that leads the charge - looks like an unstoppable force heading into a game day with championship implications.