One of the state’s smallest high schools has gotten too small to field boys and varsity girls basketball teams this winter.
Officials at Lubec Consolidated School, with a high school enrollment of fewer than 40 students, decided this week not to field varsity basketball teams for the 2009-10 season, citing low turnout for preseason practices.
Lubec athletic administrator Larry Jones said the decision essentially was made Monday evening, then became final Tuesday when opposing schools on the Hornets’ schedule and the Maine Principals’ Association were notified.
“The numbers just weren’t there,” said Jones. “At practices we barely had enough to field a starting five, and sometimes not even that many.”
With low turnouts for practices and the potential within any program for losing players to injury or academic ineligibility, Jones said that while the decision was difficult it was necessary.
“We didn’t want to get into a situation where we would get through half of the season or maybe even less and then have to forfeit,” Jones said. “Something like this doesn’t just affect one school, but every school we play.”
Lubec, a member of the Downeast Athletic Conference competing in Eastern Maine Class D, has struggled at times to field full rosters in its varsity sports offerings during recent years due in part to its shrinking population base.
Just this fall, the school’s volleyball team ended its season prematurely because of a lack of players.
Last winter, the Hornets’ girls basketball team — seven players strong — finished ninth in the final Eastern D Heal Points and reached the regional quarterfinals before being falling 66-47 to No. 1 Woodland, the eventual state champion.
The Lubec boys team, led by 1,000-point scorer Timmy Gross, went 5-13 and barely missed earning a preliminary-round berth. That squad consisted of eight players.
“With a school this small you just have to have a great percentage of your students participating to even field teams,” said Jones, whose school will not have a returning varsity sports team next year if volleyball or basketball is not restored.
Lubec was set to play an 18-game girls basketball schedule beginning Friday against East Grand of Danforth, while the boys’ 15-game schedule was set to begin with a doubleheader Saturday against Elan School of Poland to be played at Acadia Christian School in Trenton.
Most of Lubec’s scheduled contests were against DAC rivals Calais, Shead of Eastport, Narraguagus of Harrington, Machias, Woodland and Jonesport-Beals, so how those schools and others originally slated to face the Hornets fill in the sudden blanks on their schedules remains to be seen.
For example, the Shead girls were scheduled to face Lubec three times during the regular season, with the boys teams from those schools set to meet twice.
“We’ve called up Lubec’s schedule to see who they were playing, outside [Washington] County first, so we could see if maybe there were some games we could work out,” said Shead boys basketball coach and school principal Paul Theriault.
“[Athletic administrator] Bob [Davis] is going to make some calls and we’ll see what we can do. Lubec was supposed to play Elan, so we might give them a call. They also play Acadia Christian, which is another possibility. Another option may be to play a third game with another county team, which we’re already doing with Machias and the girls were supposed to do with Lubec.”