The Spokane County Board of Commissioners recognized the Eastern Washington University championship men’s basketball team in a proclamation made during its remotely-held meeting on Tuesday (May 26).
The proclamation recognized EWU for winning the Big Sky Conference outright championship with a 78-69 win over Weber State on March 7, 2020. It was the fourth Big Sky title in school history, but the COVID-19 pandemic shortened the season and ended the team’s hopes of winning the Big Sky Tournament title in Boise, Idaho, and advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the third time.
“I’m just so grateful to the commissioners for recognizing this great team,” said EWU President Dr. Mary Cullinan. “It was heartbreaking to come home early from Boise. To have this recognition is really wonderful. It was an incredible team and an incredible run.”
“We handled business and put ourselves in a position to play in the NCAA Tournament,” said Eastern head coach Shantay Legans, whose team finished 23-8 overall and 16-4 in the league. “We felt good every time we stepped on the court, and they worked hard to get there.”
The proclamation also recognized senior Mason Peatling as the MVP of the Big Sky Conference, and mentioned him, Jacob Davison and Kim Aiken Jr. as All-Big Sky selections. Peatling also earned prestigious Academic All-America honors and was a four-time member of the Big Sky All-Academic team. A total of eight Eagles were honored on the All-Academic squad.
“They had a tremendous season, and I called them the heart attack kids for how many times they were behind in the last 30 seconds but would pull out a win,” said EWU Director of Athletics Lynn Hickey. “What they did as a team was outstanding, but they also had a 3.6 team grade point average.”
Legans himself was recognized in the proclamation for concluding his third season as EWU’s head coach as the Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year.
“As a former basketball coach, I loved to give Shantay instructions from the stands,” kidded Hickey. “We are very, very proud of him – Shantay certainly deserved to be Coach of the Year.”
Legans is now 59-41 in 100 games as head coach heading into the 2020-21 season, but he prefers to heap the praise on his own team, coaching staff and Eagle Nation.
“It took everybody involved and the support we received,” Legans told the commissioners. “Mary was at every game, and she emailed after every game – even losses – and I thank her for that. It was awesome and made me feel good.”
“Our team worked extremely hard, and got themselves to a point where they were basically coaching themselves,” he continued. “I shouldn’t say that in front of my bosses, but I was proud of our players and our coaching staff and how hard they work. There are a lot of tireless hours, so I just want to say thank you on behalf of our team and program. We couldn’t have done it without everybody’s support.”
“They’ve put our program in a position to win the outright championship for only the second time in Eastern history, and to get to the NCAA Tournament,” Legans added of his team. “We’ll hold our hat on that and strive to be ready for next year and the future.”