Emmett coach John Gustin emerged from the locker room to a swarm of applauding fans.
There were a few hugs and plenty of proud pats on the back.
It was a fitting ovation for Gustin and his boys basketball team, which defeated Bishop Kelly 52-44 in the 4A District Three semifinals Tuesday night to punch a ticket to the state tournament for the first time since 2007-08.
Gustin's two sons - junior Gunnar and sophomore Porter - and a determined group of underclassmen have helped lead Emmett's return to the top of the 4A Southern Idaho Conference.
"Two years ago, Emmett was 4-18 at this time and last in the league," John Gustin said. "Now they're 18-4 and going to state and have a chance for a district championship."
Emmett (18-4) takes on defending champion Skyview (20-2) for the district title and the league's No. 1 seed at the state tournament in an 8 p.m. game Friday at Nampa High.
Skyview swept Emmett in a pair of close regular-season games. Friday's game will be a matchup of two teams that have spent much of their time in the 4A SIC on opposite ends of the spectrum in recent years.
Skyview has played in the district championship game 12 times since 2000, with six titles. Emmett went to state three straight years from 2001 to 2003, but has been just once since then (2008).
"We're going to have to play good defense and rebound. That's what they beat us at every time," Gunnar Gustin said. "They always outdo us on the boards."
The Huskies - who start four juniors and a sophomore - had three players score in double figures against the Knights (15-7). Gunnar Gustin led all scorers with 17 points, including four 3-pointers and eight rebounds. Junior guard Noah Williams added 12 points and Porter Gustin finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.
"When we're aggressive we do a lot better. We like to try to score every time," Porter Gustin said. "And everybody wants to score, too, so it works out."
SKYVIEW 73, COLUMBIA 42
The Hawks earned a spot in the district championship game for the eighth consecutive season with a dominant win over Columbia (12-10) at Skyview High in Nampa.
Senior Lane Robbins led all scorers with 21 points, including four 3-pointers. JC Kennedy added 15 points and Daniel Slemmer had 12 points to put Skyview in the state tournament for the eighth straight season.
Skyview shot 52 percent from the field and had eight players score.
On Wednesday, Bishop Kelly plays Middleton (12-10) and Kuna (7-15) draws Columbia in a pair of loser-out games. The winners meet in the District Three's third-place game Thursday at Vallivue High for a spot in next week's state tournament.
The 4A state tournament is Feb. 28 through March 1 at Borah High.
Rachel Roberts: 377-6422,Twitter: @IDS_VarsityX