As far as seasons go, last year is going to be hard to top. But, despite what Hunters women's coach Martin McLean describes as a "disjointed" preparation, both Newcastle's youth league and championship title defences are shaping up well.
The Waratah Basketball League is set to resume on July 18 after being halted due to the coronavirus pandemic with one round played.
Newcastle's championship women's side are yet to play a match and will have a vastly different look than first planned when they open the modified seven-round season against Norths on the road next week.
The global crisis has seen the return of several Hunters representatives and a likely starting five of WNBL players Cassidy McLean, Lara McSpadden, Hannah Young and Alison Ebzery plus former national league player Mikaela Dombkins.
"The season got cancelled the morning of our first game," McLean said. "We had a preparation that included Americans and not the local girls who have all come back to play.
"Coming in after [championship-winning coach] Shannon [Seebohm] and the group they had last year, where they won the final by close to 30 and it was a truly exceptional group, was never going to be easy.
"But now, to come in after that and potentially have a group just as strong, our expectations are rather high."
It is not just experience that McLean is excited about. The Hunters youth league squad, coached by Lesa Mason, also has an impressive line-up, including centre Rachael McGinniskin and shooting guard Emily Crampton. Both are 21 and expected to play a role with the championship side this year as well.
The pair grew up in Coffs Harbour but came to Newcastle for university studies. Last year they were integral to the Hunters' youth league success before being named in the youth league All Star Five. McGinniskin had the additional honour of being named youth league Most Valuable Player and got a mild taste of championship level with some minutes from the bench, including the final minute of the grand final.
"When I came here last season I expected to play youth, so it was good to get that experience in the championship team as well, especially because they had such experienced players," McGinniskin, who is studying occupational therapy at university, said.
"Playing alongside them was a great experience and a good opportunity. It was a good season and good that we were able to get two championships, which is pretty massive. I don't think that happens very often.
"Hopefully we can do that again this year. The biggest goal is to go back-to-back in both teams. That would be the dream. But just to have a good season. It's obviously all changed. It's a more accelerated season so we've really got to hit the ground running."
Crampton, who is studying teaching, is in her third season with the Hunters.
"I really thought we weren't going to have a season, so it's just really exciting we get to play," Crampton said.