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 BY JEFF FALK

 LEBANON – Take care of the rock.

 Get everyone involved.

 Team work ahead of individuality.

 Move the ball.

 Defense before offense.

 The same principles for successful basketball also apply to succcess in a community. That’s what makes Sweep The Streets and the city of Lebanon such a great fit.

 Sweep The Streets is a celebration of basketball. It’s a celebration of Lebanon.

 But most importantly, Sweep The Streets is a celebration of basketball and the city of Lebanon.

 On a warm Sunday afternoon, on the hot macadam of Southeast Playground on Walnut Street in the city, hundreds of residents from all over Lebanon County turned out to take in what the 12th edition of the annual Sweep The Streets men’s outdoor basketball tournament was showing out. Because of the festival atmosphere, the positive community vibe and the feeling of fellowship, the outcome only really seemed to matter to those on the court.

 For the record, Furman Industrial defeated the KCS Raiders in the second championship game to claim the trophy of the two-day, 16-team, double-elimination tournament. It was Furman Industrial’s second straight Sweep The Streets crown.

 “It’s a men’s tournament, but it also brings youth out,” said Sweep The Streets founder, organizer and master of ceremonies George ‘GZO’ Rodriguez. “It’s important that we continue to do this and learn from it. The most important thing in a community is trust. We need our youth. It kind of shows, ‘My city is great, and a bunch of men can get together and play a game of competitive basketball and get along.’

  “Hats off to the people behind the scenes who do things for the community,” continued Rodriguez. “Whether it’s basketball related or community advocacy related. Let’s continue to work together to make Lebanon great.”

 “Besides the basketball, my favorite part is just seeing everyone,” said Blayde Reich, a member of the winning side, a former Lebanon standout and a current Washington General. “It’s a big social event. It’s nice to see everyone here connecting. Basketball is number one, but reconnecting is a close second. I know people who don’t even like basketall but still come out.

 “The atmosphere has always been amazing,” Reich continued. “People are always yelling at you from the sidelines. Somebody makes a great play, people go wild and you feed off the crowd. It’s about connecting with the crowd.”

  The basketball itself features some of the best adult talent from Lebanon and surrounding counties. This year’s 16-team team field included former college stars, one-time high school studs and current playground legends.

 On this particular afternoon, Furman Industrial opened a comfortable 17-10 halftime advantage, then held off KCS Raiders in the second half. The KCS Raiders had invoked the ‘if necessary’ scenario by handing the defending champions their first loss in the initial title tilt.

 “It’s amazing,” said Rodriguez. “You get all walks of life here. It’s all cultures. It’s all ages. Everybody’s high-fiving and laughing and having a good time. It’s a family event.

 “What’s perfect? Nothing is,” Rodriguez added. “Life isn’t perfect. The tournament can always get better. Next week we’ll meet and talk about ways to improve it, and maybe that’s just the playground itself. We’re not going anywhere. This is the mecca of all basketball courts in Lebanon County.

 “It was a tough play,” said Reich of the final games with KCS Raiders. “But it’s always fun with these guys. There’s really nothing better. It was just a great tournament.

 “Lucardy (former Cedar Crest star, Jean-Francois) brought me on, and ever since we’ve all been running together,” added Reich. “It’s (Furman Industrial) a mix of York guys and guys Lucardy knows, just hanging out and playing ball.”

 Proceeds from the tournament go toward advocating for, mentoring and helping youth in Lebanon County. 

 During the tournament, local resident and Lebanon Transit bus driver Arthur Johnson was presented with the Sweep The Streets’ community hero award.

 “We have a formula, and the formula is always the formula,” said Rodriguez of Sweep The Street’s constant pursuit of improvement. “We want to make sure we learn something from every tournament. The teams this year were the most competitive we’ve ever had. Overall, the crowd was bigger, everyone was great and it was just a fantastic community event.

 “Originally, we had ten teams. Now we have 16 teams,” Rodriguez continued. “It’s grown. The competition has grown. The name has grown. It’s jut a good old playground basketball tournament.”

  “Your feet burn a lot more when you play outdoors, even on a cool day,” said Reich. “Another main difference from playing inside is the way the ball bounces off the rim. Nothing here is technically correct. You get away with more sometimes on the playground, and sometimes you don’t. It’s a street ball tournament. You’re here to have a good time and get some buckets.”

 

 

 

 

 

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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