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Dr. Naismith may have invented the game as a winter indoor activity, but the soul of basketball as we know it today was borne of the macadam on city streets.

The South East Playground on Walnut Street in Lebanon captured that feel for the kids Saturday in the inaugural Sweep The Streets high school hoops tournament.

When it was done, the Cedar Crest Falcons took home the gold trophy with a 43-33 win over Manheim Township.

The Falcons finished the day unbeaten at 4-0 to lap the six-team field. Besides the champion Falcons and the Blue Streaks, teams from homestanding Lebanon, Elizabethtown, Penn Manor and York Suburban were represented.

"It's a fun thing," Crest coach Tom Smith said. "The Sweep The Streets guys do a great job. It's a great organization and they do a great job and we're just happy to be a part of it this year."

The morning session consisted of pool play, with four of the six teams advancing. Elizabethtown and the Cedars – playing with JVers and ninth-graders due to the varsity being away at a camp – were both eliminated without winning a game.

Cedar Crest and Penn Manor each went 2-0, while Suburban and Township went 1-1. That set up a bracketed afternoon session for the semifinalists. The Falcons drew Suburban; the Comets squared off against the Streaks.

Crest's Evan Horn was awarded Most Valuable Player, despite having to duck out of the final to race to Spooky Nook in Lancaster for an AAU obligation.

No matter. Horn was by far the best player on the playground Saturday and you didn't need stat lines to support the argument. Your eyes did.

That's OK, too – there weren't any stats being kept. This is South East Playground in July, not Giant Center in March – part of the laid-back charm. The atmosphere included music playing in the background during games and fans ringing the dual courts at South East in fold-up picnic chairs, taking the action in at close range.

Horn closed his day in coup de grace fashion by intercepting half a dozen passes and throwing down four – yes, four – dunks in a 55-19 semifinal overwhelming of Suburban. York County's Trojans traveled the farthest of all combatants and had played sharp ball in the morning pool play session, but ran into a Falcon club headed by Horn bent on taking the gold basketball trophy home.

Smith's crew showed that determination in spades by picking up the slack left by Horn's departure in the final against Manheim Township, which had knocked off Penn Manor 47-37 in the other semi.

The Falcons led 23-21 at the break (games were comprised of two 20-minute halves with a running clock), but pulled away down the stretch. Equally comfortable in half courts sets or the more traditional blacktop run 'n gun game, the Falcons hit the boards hard and displayed the most active hands defensively of any club.

"They gave a great effort, top to bottom," Smith said. "I think our depth has been our strength ever since we took over the program. It's a testament to our kids and our hard work and it's just kind of what we do. Everyone understands the system and what the expectations are. When our kids get their chance, they just go out there and make plays, and it's been a luxury we've had for the last couple of years."

This was a new foray for the Sweep The Streets local brain trust – comprised of longtime Lebanon friends George Rodriguez, Angel Cruz and Robert Cleoper – who will be holding their eighth men's tournament in August on the heels of a women's competition in late July. Rodriguez said the heavy lifting began "four or five months ago" to pull together their first high school competition.

"We spoke about this last year," Rodriguez said. "A lot of the kids watch the men's and they were interested and they said, 'what about us'? So we put it in motion."

The imperfections inherent in blacktop hoops – pitted or uneven court spots, the occasional tree branch, sun to shade and back – breathes ball in a way that sometimes escapes controlled, sterile indoor environs.

"You bring the elements to the game," Cleoper said. "You can definitely see teams making some adjustments."

Rodriguez sees it as a melting pot of sorts, combining the best of the indoor and outdoor games.

"You can take what you learn from your coaches in high school, and then you can come out here and play physical, competitive basketball against teams you either have or haven't seen," Rodriguez said. "We have trophies, plaques, tee-shirts and championships hats for the kids. This is something we want to grow over the years and it's not gonna stop. We have some great competition out here today. And it's not only that. We want to show what Lebanon's all about. We have great people, great sponsors and most importantly, great basketball here."

"These kids love it. Who doesn't want to get outside on this beautiful day and play some ball on these courts? It's a great mix. Kind of the best of both worlds."

The day was, by all consideration, a rousing success, with one note: the size of the field. Rodriguez said that proposed teams from Elco, Annville and Pequea Valley all had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts with camps, the same fate that befell Lebanon's varsity on Saturday. So the 2016 edition will likely have new slot on next summer's calendar to avoid similar issues.

"With a new date, we hope to get 10 to 12 teams next year," Rodriguez said.

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