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New Life girls basketball: Eagles begin new year with wins

New Life Academy sophomore Sydney Steele looks for an open teammate last week.

The new year has been a good one for the New Life Academy girls basketball team.

The Eagles snapped its season-long losing streak in a big way, winning four games over a six-day span, giving them a 2-2 MCAA conference record and 4-10 overall record.

On Saturday, Jan. 5, the Eagles traveled to Barnum and defeated the Bombers 35-29.

Behind a 76 percent effort from the free throw line, NLA scored 13 free buckets, and head coach Ruth Ann Pederson said her team's defensive schemes and double teams allowed the Eagles to get their first win of the season. Sophomore center Valerie Hohol led the Eagles in scoring and rebounding with 11 points and eight boards. Emily Bouldan scored eight points in the win over Barnum (6-8).

"It was really nice to be able to hear the excitement of the team after the win," Pederson said. "It was a good one to get off our shoulders."

The winning ways continued on Tuesday as the Eagles traveled to Trinity and defeated the Tri-Hawks 55-44 behind a lights-out shooting performance by Bouldan.Bouldan scored 16 of her 18 points in the first half, including four 3-point shots. The Tri-Hawks (5-5; 1-3 MCAA) dialed up the defense against Bouldan in the second half, allowing Hohol and sophomore point guard Sydney Steele to combine for 22 points in the second half.

"It is great to see us spreading the ball around now," Pederson said. "Earlier in the season we were much more one dimensional. Now, when teams shut down one girl, we have many more stepping up and taking over."

On Thursday, the Eagles were again the away team as they paid St. Paul Academy a visit, defeating the Spartans 52-35. Freshmen Abby Thor led NLA in scoring against SPA (4-6) with 14 points, while Bouldan added 11 of her own and Hohol scored 10. Hohol also had 12 of the Eagles' 45 rebounds.

On Friday, NLA hosted Southwest Christian and fell behind early against the Stars stellar outside shooting. After some mid-game adjustments and tweaks, the Eagles were able to regroup and cause some crucial turnovers, leading the Stars (7-5; 1-2 MCAA) by eight at halftime. Behind Hohol's third-straight double-double, NLA was able to secure the victory with a 46-39 end score.

Next, NLA travels to Legacy Christian on Saturday, before hosting Minnehaha Academy on Saturday in Woodbury.