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New Life Academy junior Emily Bolduan returns to the court for the Eagles this year. Bolduan was the team's leading scorer last year, averaging 13.3 points per game as a sophomore.

2012-13 Winter Preview: New Life girls basketball team set to exceed expectations

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With only one senior returning, the New Life Academy girls basketball team is young but experienced.

The Eagles might look young on paper, but many of last year's underclassmen saw a lot of playing time. That includes leading scorer Emily Bouldan, who averaged 13.3 points per game as a sophomore last year.

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Bouldan and fellow co-captain Matty Steele, who is the only senior to return to the team, are ready to lead the Eagles to a season that surpasses the expectations older teams in the conference have for them.

Second year head coach Ruth Ann Pederson returns to the reins for the squad that went 13-15 last year, ending the season with a 21-41 loss to Concordia Academy in the second round of the Section 4AA Tournament.

Key departures for the Eagles were seniors Regan Baar, Taylor Paulson and Alexandra Schmidt.

Bouldan and Steele return with a group that has already played number of games together, so Pederson said she hopes team chemistry is found early in the season.

Steele's younger sister, Sydney Steele, along with sophomore Valerie Hohol are the core of the team that is set to improve upon last year's record and finish.

The Eagles grabbed a couple key wins last year that showed the team could play with anyone when they beat Fridley in the Holiday tournament and St. Croix Lutheran in a conference showdown. With the confidence gained from those victories, the team is poised to make many more improvements this year.

The Eagles are looking to a key match-up with conference rival St. Croix Lutheran at home at 5:45 p.m. Dec. 11.

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