corey.davis@gaflnews.com

Several times throughout the season, senior point guard Cartaesha Macklin literally carried her team on her back. Her hustle paid off as she was named the Class 2A state Player of the Year Monday by the Florida Dairy Farmers.

Macklin, who finished her seven-year career with 2,556 points, averaged 29.7 points, 12. 7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game for the Lady Hornets.  

Macklin finished with 109 points to beat out runner-up Michelle Woods of Community School of Naples, who finished with 82 points and Florida Air’s Jamie Kaplan, 54 points, for the award    

She now joins former Lafayette standout Natalie Land, who won the Class 2A and Miss Basketball award her sophomore and senior seasons, as the second recipient of the award for Lafayette.      

Throughout the district tournament and post-season run, Macklin came up big for her team every night to carry them back to the Final Four.

In the District 4-2A semifinals, Macklin chipped in 16 points and admitted she felt a lot pressure during the championship game with Tallahassee Maclay.  She came up huge when her team needed her the most scoring a rare triple-double pouring in a game-high 31 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds and five block shots to lead Lafayette past Maclay 65-60

"I had a lot of pressure on me and there was a lot of pressure on us being in our home gym," Macklin said. "I had to go out and lead the team.”

Held to 10 first half points, Macklin responded by taking over the game during clutch time scoring 21 of her 31 points in the second half. Macklin’s two free throws with 17.2 seconds left not only clinched the game and avenged two earlier regular season losses to Maclay, but moved her in front of Land (712 points) as the schools all-time single season scoring leader with her 714th point of the season.  

"I am sure she felt a lot of pressure because everybody is looking to her to do things and she has taken upon herself to carry us and to do those things,” Blankenship said. “She’s been on varsity since the sixth grade and thats seven (titles) in a row for her.”

Macklin added 24 points and 12 rebounds in the first round playoff win over West Gadsden and  36 points, 9 rebounds, 5 steals, 5 assists in a second round win over Maclay.

In a tight game regional final game at home against Graceville, Blankenship said he saw the look in Macklin’s eyes and knew his senior point guard wasn’t going to let her team down.

“In the locker room at the half, I told her to will us,” Blankenship said. “I saw her look. Usually she smiles a lot and I saw in her face and in her actions that she was not going to let us lose.”  

In her final home game, Macklin closed out her career saving the best for last. Macklin scored 21 of her 38 points in the final quarter, including 10 of the final 12 points, to lead Lafayette to a 57-50 win over visiting Graceville in the Region I-2A final.   

In the Class 2A state semifinal, Macklin buried her face in her white Gatorade towel not wanting to watch the final two and half minutes of her teams semifinal game . Macklin picked up her fifth foul and fouled out with 2:40 left in the game and was forced to watch the final minutes of what would be her final prep game.

For nearly 30 minutes, Macklin carried the bulk of her teams offense by herself counting for 33 points, 13 rebounds and three steals in her teams 65-52 Class 2A semifinal loss to Sagemont at the Lakeland Center.  

“The fact that I didn't finish, it ate me up and that was the hardest point,” Macklin said. “I'm definitely sad, but definitely proud of our team.”

Sagemont head coach David Correa called Macklin's third foul of the game with 4:14 left in the third period, a key turning point of the game.

“That was big,” Correa said. “I think she (Macklin) got fatigued too. We knew we had to stop her. We went to a match up zone. She's a great shooter from the outside and she gets great penetration. “You almost feel bad for her,” he said. “I hope my freshmen and sophomores grow up to be like that. She's probably the best player we've played all year.”

“Cartaesha Macklin has started for us since the eighth grade and she’s been first team all-state since ninth grade,” Blankenship said. “She’s carried us for most of the season, she truly is one of a kind, but now she is moving on to bigger and better things.”

Macklin joins Morgan Jones (Lake Mary, 6A), Erica Lanier (Winter Haven, 5A), Nicole Adams (Gulf, 4A), Meghan Keough (Tampa Catholic, 3A) and Danielle McCray (Lake Worth Trinity, 1A) as the finalists for the 2011 Miss Basketball Player of the Year. Voting ended today.           

“I have been blessed to have coached Natalie (Land) and Cartaesha (Macklin),” Lafayette head coach Jimmy Blankenship said. “I’m very proud of them and happy to be apart of their success. “What great role models they are and hopefully more kids would look and see besides being talented, I wish people would know just how much these two did to achieve what they have and  how bright their futures are.

“Neither one took a shortcut to get all this success, they did it the right way, worked hard in the classroom, weight room, every game, in the summer and at practice, always trying to get better.   “They made everyone around them better and I am just thrilled that I can say I was a part of what they did here at Lafayette. They made me a better coach and person. I enjoyed watching them grow up into two outstanding young ladies and will always have a place in my heart for them. I love both of them very much.”

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