CROWN POINT | The driveway outside the Albrecht home in Crown Point has looked a little like Waterloo for much of the last 12 years.
The one-on-one basketball battles between Chachi, Stephen and Spike Albrecht were so intense that their father, Chuck, had one rule before the ball bounced once.
"They had to wear a mouthpiece."
One day Spike and Stephen were going at it. Literally. But they didn't listen to Dad.
The heal of Spike's hand drove Stephen's tooth through his cheek. There was a trail of blood dripping from the court to the hospital.
"Fifteen stitches," Chuck said. "They're in the emergency room, and I'm screaming at 'em, because they weren't wearing their mouthpieces."
This is the 10th winter that Chuck and Tammy Albrecht have had a son playing basketball for the Crown Point Bulldogs. As Spike continues his remarkable play, it will be their last.
The 6-foot-1 senior point guard is playing the best basketball of his career and enhancing the already impressive family legacy.
"Spike never ceases to amaze me," C.P. coach Clint Swan said. "Most nights I can't wait to get home and watch the game film. He made a move against Chesterton (last Friday), and our whole bench was laughing. They were amazed again.
"And it's all a by-product of hard work."
Chuck starred and graduated from Lew Wallace in 1979. He then played at Purdue Calumet.
Chachi played as a freshman for the Bulldogs and graduated from C.P. in 2005.
Stephen, a 3-point specialist, started as a sophomore. He led the 'Dogs to the 2008 sectional championship in his senior season. He began college ball at Toledo and is now at Brown.
Spike led the Duneland Athletic Conference in scoring last season with 19 a game. This season he's averaging 19.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 3.2 steals a game. He is being recruited pretty hard by Brown.
Beyond being feisty and very good basketball players, all three Albrecht boys suffered from a similar condition. Chuck said it was something in the family gene pool.
Tight, inflexible hips caused all three of them to suffer pain, stress and eventually back injuries.
Chachi had a stress fracture in his lower back his sophomore year.
Stephen had two back surgeries in 2008-09 which forced him to redshirt his first year at Toledo.
At the end of last high school season, Spike was exhausted. There was nothing left in the tank. So he made a decision that very few, if any, high school players in Indiana did.
"I chose not to play AAU," Spike said.
Instead, five days a week in the spring and summer, he started working with Frank Eksten, the director of athletic development at the Sports Medicine Institute at St. Anthony's Franciscan Point health complex.
Instead of going to tournaments in Las Vegas and other hot spots, he was retooling his body for one last high school season.
"He came back with a different body," Swan said. "It's made all the difference this year."
Eksten, who never worked with Chachi, began working with Stephen after his back went south. Spike was suffering from the same condition.
The lack of hip mobility caused the rest of their bodies to not work properly. So the movement during competition that was supposed to be in the hip area was being transferred to the lower back.
"Playing in pain is a bad long-term strategy," said Eksten, who has observed that high school players, who also play summer ball, typically play more games than a NBA player in a given year. "He was pretty beat up at the end of last season."
First, Spike spent a lot of time in recovery, working and resting his tired body under Eksten's supervision. This allowed Spike to regain his natural movement.
Then, they worked on regaining his core strength. But all of this was centered around him getting his natural flexibility back into his hips. When that was achieved and the stress on his back was relieved, strength and muscle mass began.
It didn't take Swan long to see the difference.
Against New Albany in a high school summer game Albrecht drove baseline, went up and was hammered by a big power forward.
"Last year he would've ended up sprawled out on the floor," Swan said. "But he took the contact, laid the ball in and landed on both feet. It was amazing, and he's been doing that all year."
Heading into tonight's game against Lake Central, Albrecht has scored 797 points (14.8), has 188 rebounds (3.5), 239 assists (4.4) and 103 steals (1.9) in 54 career games.
He is a single point away from the score he needs on his ACT test to be admitted to Brown, where he could play with Stephen for two full seasons. He plans on taking his ACT test after the high school season is over.
If his score doesn't hit the mark, Brown wants him so badly they will set him up in an East Coast prep school for a year, so he can get to where they need him to be.
"When I was in sixth grade I remember going to Chachi's games, and I remember thinking, 'Man, I can't wait until I'm a senior,'" Spike said.
And for those sick of competing against all these Albrechts, it isn't entirely over yet. Hannah is in seventh grade, and she's pretty good, too.