Polish Natives Compete in NCAA Basketball

NCAAYPSILANTI, Mich. –  A recent basketball game between Chicago State University and Eastern Michigan University was a reunion for two Polish natives who finished their high school basketball in the Chicago area. Both agreed that NCAA basketball was the best path for their development.

Pawel Kielbasa, Chicago State’s 6-10, junior, center, and Kamil Janton, Eastern Michigan’s 6-10, sophomore, center, got to talk about the holidays and Wigilia, (Polish Christmas-Eve dinner), after the game.  Kielbasa grew up in Opole, Poland and Janton is a native of Tarnow, Poland.

The New Year hasn’t been kind to the Chicago State. They had a tough road loss at Eastern Michigan University, 59-47. The Cougars jumped out to a 9-2, lead and went in at halftime, up 26-19.  EMU had a strong second half as junior, Brandon Bowdry, led all scorers with 23 points and nine rebounds. Sophomore, Antonio Green, finished with 11 points for the Eagles. 

Pawel Kielbasa (left) and Kamil Janton.

“Kielbasa is having some quality minutes for us,” said third year Cougar coach, Benjy Taylor. Coach Taylor added, “He defended well and protected the ball, and Montgomery had a good game for us.” Junior’s, Carl Montgomery and Christian Wall had 10 points in the loss for CSU.

At Chicago Kennedy High School, Kielbasa was also an All-State volleyball player.

Janton also got to spend time for the holidays in Chicago.  “It was great to get some home cooking, Bardza-Dobrze,” (Polish for Very-Good), said Janton.  EMU coach Charles Ramsey added, “Kamil is an outstanding team player and gives everything he has.  His efforts will get him more court time. Kamil is our next man in.”  

As a true freshman for Eastern Michigan, Janton got into 16 games last year and has the best Grade Point Average on the team.  He graduated from Elgin Bartlett High School with academic honors.

Janton played for the Under-20 (age), Polish National Team last summer in the FIBA, ‘B’ Division Tournament in Skopje, Macedonia. The big center helped Poland to a third place finish. 

Both Polish natives agreed that NCAA basketball is another universe above high school competition.  “Everything is so much faster,” said Kielbasa.  Janton agreed with a big smile. “Everything starts with speed,” said the EMU center

Chicago State (5-13), will host Utah Valley, January 28, in Great West Conference play at the Jones Convocation Center at 7:30 PM.  They lost their last home game to Northern Illinois, 99-93.

Eastern Michigan University (9-8), will be home for a Mid-American Conference game on January 27, against Bowling Green at 7:00 PM, at the Convocation Center. 

CSU will again travel to the Detroit area for a non-conference game against the University of Detroit-Mercy on February 8, at 7:00 PM at Calihan Hall. 

In women’s hoops, heavily recruited, junior forward, Taylor Langham has started only seven games for Detroit-Mercy this year.  Nursing an injury, she has averaged six points. The Lady Titans will be home next at Calihan Hall for a Horizon League contest against Youngstown State on January 28, at 5:00 PM. 

In Michigan Community College Athletic Association women’s play, the Schoolcraft Community College Lady Ocelots have vaulted to a number one ranking in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II team rankings.  They are a perfect 19-0.  Coach Karen Lafata has her gal’s firing on all cylinders, averaging 84 points a game on offence. They are home next in Livonia on January 30, at 1:00 PM against Mott C.C.

Raymond Rolak is a Detroit, Michigan based sports broadcaster.

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