Rick Ruffin

Rick Ruffin, who coaches both the men’s and women’s varsity basketball teams at Halifax Academy, provides counsel during a game versus Rocky Mount Academy on Dec. 11. The Vikings are in action twice this week — at home tonight versus Kerr-Vance Academy, and at Christ Covenant on Thursday.

Barring a COVID-19 inspired shuffle, the Halifax Academy basketball program will twice enter the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Coastal Conference arena this week, testing its mettle against contrasting opponents.

The Vikings, idle since last Tuesday, play host to Kerr-Vance Academy tonight, then shift to Winterville on Thursday for a showdown with Christ Covenant.

Without further ado, a breakdown of the matchups:

Men’s Varsity

Halifax (0-4, 0-2 Coastal) will likely have its hands full with KVA, which has surrendered just 49.5 points per game this season en route to building a 4-2 (1-0 Coastal) overall mark.

Always tough, the Spartans are, with this winter being no exception.

The agenda doesn’t get much easier on Thursday, either, as the Vikings must find a way to slow Christ Covenant (3-5, 0-0 Coastal) guards Ethan Jarrell and Nate Furlough, who are responsible for 81% of the team’s scoring this season.

Zone defense, anyone? Perhaps.

Ultimately, this week represents a stern test for the Vikings — whose most prolific scorer, Tyler Cotten (15.0 points, 5.0 rebounds per game), will surely be tested.

Women’s Varsity

Expect a runout victory tonight for Halifax, who simply won’t find proper challenge in a KVA (0-2, 0-0 Coastal) outfit that rosters just seven players and scores a mere 27.5 points per game.

With bench-clearing haste, the blue-and-green shall roll.

Thursday, however, will likely be a vastly different story.

An excellent defensive unit, Christ Covenant (6-3, 0-0 Coastal) has been solid to date, allowing just 35.9 points per contest while running most of its offense through Olivia and Eliza Entzminger, who produce a combined 25.4 points and 13.0 boards per outing.

Additionally, the Spartans get crafty run from senior Bethany Carels, who contributes 8.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 3.4 steals per game.

If Halifax is to sweep the week — which is certainly possible, given its experience and talent — it will need three things: solid defense and rebounding in the half-court, excellent free-throw shooting and consistency from its Big 3 of Emerson Poole, Ashton Garner and Ashlynn Liles.

NEA issues schedule change — again

The Northeast Academy women’s varsity basketball team, which has seen the start of its season twice-delayed by COVID-19 issues at rival schools, again amended its schedule last week, and is now set to begin play on Monday at home versus Pungo Christian Academy.

From there, the Eagles will stay busy, competing in six games before hosting Senior Night in Lasker on Jan. 29.