BALLARAT Rush captain Kristy Rinaldi says she will not return to the Minerdome next season.
Rinaldi thanked the club, sponsors and supporters and informed them of her decision last night, saying it was time to move on, when accepting the Robyn Maher Rush most valuable player award.
Miners captain Matt Hanson was named the Ray Borner most valuable player for the men's team in Ballarat Basketball Club's awards dinner at Ballarat Golf Club.
It has been a rollercoaster season for both teams in the South East Australian Basketball League this season - Rush with a change in coach, the Miners with player injury, unavailability and a lengthy losing streak - and both captains were honoured to be recognised.
Rinaldi will play out the season.
Rush has a semi-final against Nunawading on Saturday night and she is determined to take the team as far as they can go.
Rinaldi earned the respect of Rush coach Peter Cunningham and Rush fans in how she played out the season after her sister Donna was cut as coach one game into the season.
"It's been a really difficult year but really good we made finals, that's what I wanted, and hopefully we can go through now, mix it with the best, and see where that takes us," Rinaldi said.
"I think the events that occurred at the start of the season were really challenging for me.
"It's time to move on from Ballarat and, as hard as it is, I feel it is the right decision."
Rinaldi said there were great young leaders in the Rush mix, including Sophie Alexander, Bronte Clark and Molly Mathews, who have doubled games in SEABL and the Rush development team.
She felt they could really step up the next couple of seasons.
Rinaldi has been consistent on the floor, edging out Rush leader Kate Willey and star Alice Kunek, who averaged 23.3 points per game including a 45-point game a fortnight ago in Albury-Wodonga.
Matt Hanson has signalled he is "very interested" to return to Ballarat next season.
The American feels there is lots of positive work to do with exciting young talent in the Miners' ranks.
He wants to continue what he started this year with the Miners coaching staff, under head coach David Flint, and Ballarat Basketball Club with chief executive officer Peter Eddy and president Nick Grylewicz.
"One could say it's been tough (this season) but we've had some really nice wins against really nice teams and our young group is improving," Hanson said.
"I was fortunate to be placed in the captaincy role and that the coaches had confidence in me to make me a centre point."
This was Hanson's first season in the SEABL.
In his debut season, Hanson averaged 20.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, including a season-high 30 points in the season opener against Mt Gambier.