After a one-year hiatus, the North Haven Community School girls varsity basketball team will be back on the hardwood this winter.

Last season, the Hawks were forced to cancel the 2016-17 campaign due to lack of players. The school has 67 students in kindergarten through 12th grade — and only 18 in grades 9-12.

“We’re really excited to be back onto the varsity level again,” said island coach Laura MacDonald. “It was different playing junior varsity teams and whatnot and adapting to that with younger players and that was a lot of fun, but I’m really happy to be back.”

In an attempt to salvage at least part of its season last year, the Hawks still traveled with the varsity boys on road games. They put together a middle school girls team and played against middle school-aged opponents if the other school could produce a team.

In those games, the Hawks finished 7-0.

However, the Hawks, as is typically the case with such a small school, will have only six varsity players available for this season.

“I think it’s definitely going to be a learning year,” MacDonald said. “I have three eighth-graders, a freshman, one returning [varsity] player and an exchange student who is in 11th grade. With six girls, it’ll be tough, but it’ll be a lot of fun if everyone’s willing to learn.”

Erin Cooper, who formerly played for the Hawks, will be the assistant coach for MacDonald. And could transition into the head coaching role by season’s end as MacDonald is expecting her third child in February.

“If they can focus and listen to Erin and I, they will have a lot of potential in the years to come,” MacDonald said.

In most instances, the Maine Principals’ Association insists on a two-year absence from the varsity ranks for varsity teams that pull out of a season. However, given that NHCS gave ample time prior to the start of the season and the schedules for other teams did not have to be redone, the organization allowed the Hawks to return after a one-year break.

MacDonald said the Hawks were unable to pick up games with longtime Penobscot Bay-rival Vinalhaven this season, but will play three games against Islesboro, its neighbor to the East.

North Haven Community School also will have a team participate in the Busline League this season. That team will have players in grades 5-7, as the eighth-graders will be on the high school varsity team.

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com or by phone at 594-4401.