Sophia McVicar (4) of Calais makes a pass while being guarded by Madawaska's Brianne Thibeault during their 2019 Class C girls basketball quarterfinal at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. Credit: Pete Warner / BDN

MADAWASKA — The Madawaska Middle/High School girls varsity basketball season has been canceled due to lack of players and COVID-19 fears.

“We have had low numbers the last few years,” Madawaska School Department Athletic Director Lynn Wetmore said. “We had seven that were interested this year, but some have decided not to play because of the COVID situation and we needed to respect that.”

With only four girls confirmed for the Feb. 1 start of the delayed season, Madawaska officials said they had no choice but withdraw.

Normally, if a school withdraws from a sport once the season has begun, that team must forfeit two years of eligibility in the Maine Principals’ Association for that particular sport. Wetmore said she did not think that would be the case with the Owls this year.

“They [the MPA] have been pretty flexible for us,” Wetmore said. “Considering some of my players are not playing because of COVID they would not penalize us for that.”

Two years ago, head coach Dean Gendreau led the Madawaska girls to a 14-4 regular-season record that earned the club the No. 3 seed in the Class C North tournament. The Owls beat No. 14 Fort Kent 57-33 in a prelim playoff, but then lost to No. 6 Calais 74-42 in the quarterfinals at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

Last year, the team was significantly reduced with the loss of four graduated seniors and two other players who chose not to play. The Owls finished that season 4-14 and did not qualify for the playoffs.

The Aroostook League has adjusted an already shortened basketball schedule to account for the loss of Madawaska. The teams slated to play the Madawaska girls were Fort Kent, Van Buren, Central Aroostook and Fort Fairfield.

According to Van Buren Athletic Director Matt Rossignol, “We picked up two games with Fort Kent. It presented a minor challenge, as we had to find common open dates, which we were eventually able to do.”

Central Aroostook and Fort Fairfield are adding one game each against Caribou, Fort Fairfield Athletic Director Tim Watt said.