Shepparton Lady Gators will again be without a Big V competition side this year, despite interest from players.
With the Country Basketball League coming to an end this month, Shepparton’s female players do not have a way to continue playing in a state competition during winter.
It is the fourth consecutive year Shepparton will be without a female side in the Big V competition, with the league knocking back the Greater Shepparton Basketball Association’s application to enter a side.
Association president Brett Hutchins said he believed there would have been enough talent in the side, despite a difference in opinion from Big V.
‘‘They indicated we didn’t have enough strength in our list that we’ve provided, which we disagree with,’’ he said.
‘‘We appealed that decision and that was taken to an independent hearing and that (Big V’s) decision was upheld.’’
The Greater Shepparton association was required to place a request with the Big V to enter a women’s side in the middle of last year.
As a result, the performance of the Lady Gators in this summer’s Country Basketball League season was not taken into account.
Chris Judd’s side rose to a semi-final appearance, with Rhianna Barton, Marni Sharp and Kristy and Sarah Down all prominent.
Hutchins said the association would again apply for a place in next year’s Big V competition.
‘‘We’re back to the drawing board, but as far as the GSBA is concerned with our Big V women’s program it’s a must, it’s a flagship event for our female athletes and we’ll certainly be trying to come up with a process beneficial to both us and Big V,’’ he said.
Big V officials denied the association’s request to enter a side last year for similar reasons.
But some of the region’s most talented females were committed to entering a strong side into the league this year.
Judd coached the Lady Gators the last time they entered a side in 2014, returning to lead the CBL team this summer due to a request from players.
The Leigh Bathman-coached Shepparton side begins its quest for Big V division one men’s glory on March 18.