Reaching the Sweet 16 of the high school basketball season is not to be taken for granted.
So, when brothers Lane and Todd Schumacher both led their teams to the regional playoffs, it brought a sense of excitement to this longtime Kennewick family.
Lane, the girls coach at Kamiakin High in Kennewick, and Todd, the boys coach at Columbia High in Burbank, will lead their teams in their respective games this weekend in Spokane with state tournament berths on the line.
Kamiakin (17-5) faces Lakes of Tacoma at 8 p.m. today in the Class 3A regionals, while Columbia (12-12) plays Okanogan at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Class 1A regionals.
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"Anytime you are in the final 16, it makes for an enjoyable year," Lane Schumacher said. "And then to have my brother 9 miles down the road being able to make the final 16 too, it's kind of a neat accomplishment."
The two grew up in Kennewick, graduating from Kamiakin in the late '80s and early '90s. They starred on the Braves teams back then, later moving onto Columbia Basin College and eventually playing at Northwest Nazarene in Nampa, Idaho.
"It's been fun to follow the Kamiakin girls season, being that I teach at Kamiakin," Todd Schumacher said. "And obviously at the Burbank end to have our team get to this level ... it's been a real success story. It's been fun."
This time last year, neither figured to be getting ready to coach regional games this weekend.
Lane was busy spending time with his family, while working as a academic adviser at Columbia Basin College in Pasco.
Todd was teaching at Kamiakin High in Kennewick, and was an assistant on the varsity boys team.
Both decided to get back on the bench as head basketball coaches and the decision has paid off.
"It's very satisfying to see the success they've had," said Don Schumacher, Lane and Todd's dad. "They have worked hard and I like the way they handle the whole situation with kids and pressure, it is very gratifying."
Don was the longtime boys basketball coach and athletic director at Kamiakin, retiring from the position last summer. While he never expected them to follow in his footsteps as a coach, he is grateful for the success they have experienced.
"I thought I taught them better than that," he deadpanned. "They are good teachers and good people, and kids need that. In that respect, I'm happy for that. And I'm happy for the kids that get to have them as coaches."
Dad also taught the boys how to coach, though he tries not to talk Xs and Os too much -- unless asked.
Don Schumacher was well-known for his defensive strategy, mixing up full-court presses with zones and whatever else was needed to confuse opposing teams.
That has rubbed off on Lane, 43, and Todd, 41, who both use devastating full-court presses to not only force turnovers but wear out opposing offenses.
"I like to do it if you can force the tempo," Lane said. "A lot of it you have to go around the personnel you have."
For the Columbia team, which has struggled a bit offensively this year, creating points off defense is a necessity.
"It's almost becoming a thing of its own," Todd said. "There is a little fear (from opposing teams) of our pressure."
Todd has also helped change the mentality of the program at Columbia, bringing a new attitude.
"This year, we feel like we can actually win games," Columbia junior Chris Ryckman said. "He's changed things so we adjust to what the defense is doing, rather than just do our plays. We play with a lot more intensity than before."
At Kamiakin, the changes have been less noticeable. The Braves were expected to do this well. The team has made the state tournament the last two seasons and returns almost all of its key contributors from last season.
There still was an adjustment period to the new coach, however.
"He can get after us," sophomore Lindsey Schauble said. "He knows when to yell at us and he's taught us a lot."
The two brothers also cite former CBC and Northwest Nazarene coach Ed Weidenbach as a coaching mentor, in addition to their father.
"My dad was a players coach," Todd said. "He was a father figure to the team. Weidenbach was definitely more hard-nosed."
Weidenbach said he knew early on the two would be excellent coaches.
"They had very high basketball IQs and good skills," Weidenbach said. "They understood the game well."
The brothers have followed different career arcs to reach this point.
Lane graduated from Northwest Nazarene and went to Europe to play professional ball, before returning to Nampa to get his master's degree. He became a junior varsity boys coach for a local high school before taking over as the Nampa High varsity boys coach. Two years later, he was hired as the CBC men's coach.
Todd, meanwhile, graduated from college and went to Prosser to coach the varsity boys. He stayed there four seasons before joining Lane as an assistant at CBC.
The two coached college ball for eight seasons before Todd left to be an assistant boys coach at Kamiakin, and Lane decided to take a break from coaching.
A few years later, though, the two decided they wanted to get back into the game, which was no surprise to friends and family.
"It wasn't terribly unexpected," said Tony, the youngest of the three brothers and the only one who doesn't coach in the school system. "The itch was always there and it is all we really knew growing up. We grew up breaking down film and doing shot charts and talking about scouting. I thought they had both been missing it."
The return hasn't gone unnoticed in the area's coaching community.
"With as hard as they work and as much as they have been obsessed with basketball," said Chiawana boys coach Chad Herron, who roomed with Todd in Nampa, "their success doesn't surprise me at all."
-- Craig Craker: 582-1509; email@example.com; Twitter: @Craig_Craker