WAGGA Blaze stalwart Caren Hugo is adamant the Waratah League Division Two will continue to play a vital role in giving country basketballers a chance to develop after the league was cancelled this year.
Delays in getting back to court after the coronavirus shutdown proved too difficult to overcome for Basketball NSW.
After winning three of the past four championships, including the past two, the Blaze's involvement this year will be reduced to a carnival-style tournament over the October long weekend at a venue to be confirmed.
Hugo said it was disappointing the season couldn't be saved, but is confident the Blaze will return as healthy as ever in 2021.
"It wasn't unexpected. Basketball NSW did everything they could to try and get it off the ground," she said.
"It (coronavirus shutdown) unfortunately went a bit too long and it became a bit too hard for everyone (other clubs) to commit.
"If it went ahead the girls were quite keen to play. It is what it is and unfortunately it's the way it went."
Hugo said this season would have given emerging players an ideal chance to prove themselves after Basketball Wagga opted not to bring in any imports this year.
"It would have been an important year fr some of those young girls," she said.
"They're of the age where they could have started to push through for a starting spot and make a bigger impact in games.
"It's a shame for them and especially Hass (NSW Country representative Amelia Hassett), she's bottom age 18 and it would have been a vital season for her.
"There's definitely a need for it (division two). For some of us country clubs it's just too difficult for us to compete at the highest division financially, talent-wise and also with referee numbers."
Hugo is unsure whether she will play on next season.
"We will lose Hannah (Rya) next year, she'll be moving on elsewhere for her career," she said.
"And Summa (Stephens) and I are getting a bit old, we'll make those decisions as we get a bit closer. But I'm confident all the younger girls will be back.