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Sunday, December 14, 2008 7:04 AM EST

By Christopher A. Vito,

MIDDLETOWN — Before the season, Marvin Holman-Little had members of his family autograph his basketball sneakers with a Sharpie marker.

“Not just my family (at home),” the Penncrest senior said. “I had my family here sign them, too.”

“Family” is the word the Lions shout when they break their in-game huddles. And it took a family-sized effort Friday night, not just that of the sizeable Holman-Little, to take down visiting Strath Haven.

The Lions overcame Haven’s Calvin Newell, the county’s leading scorer, to win their home opener and Central League debut, 41-37.

Holman-Little scored 14 points, brought down eight rebounds and blocked a pair of shots to keep the Lions (2-0, 1-0) perfect through the season’s first week. Rodney Duncan scored 12 more and knocked down two free throws with seven seconds remaining to ice the game.

A 6-6 forward, Holman-Little needed to have a big game if the Lions were going to defeat their neighborhood rivals. He contends, however, that his teammates were just as worthy of credit.

Point guard Andrew Radomicki kept a close eye on Newell all night, fighting to keep the steady scorer on the perimeter. And forward Chris Voutsakis came off the bench and grabbed some valuable rebounds in the second half.

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Marvin Holman-Little had two things he could always rely on – the playground and basketball. They were his escape, his sanctuary, his place to dream about a better life. The lithe Holman-Little could always zone out at Piccoli Playground, in the Juniata section of Philadelphia. It didn’t matter what time it was. It could be 2 in the afternoon, or 4 in the morning.

There, he could escape.

At the time, he didn’t care about anything except street ball and girls. Nothing really mattered.

That life now seems light years away. The 6-6 Penncrest swingman is among the top players in Delaware County – and in the area this season. Holman-Little has literally received a new lease on life, successfully appealing to the PIAA last spring for an extra year of eligibility.

He is surrounded by a lot of good people now, including Penncrest coach Mike Doyle, his teammates and classmates, and most importantly, his mother Darlene Holman, who was a single teenager when she had him.

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