High School Sports

Davidson Day’s Maya Caldwell driven to snag elusive state title as senior

Davidson Day senior guard Maya Caldwell averages 23 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals to lead the Patriots. She’ll play next year in college at Georgia.
Davidson Day senior guard Maya Caldwell averages 23 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals to lead the Patriots. She’ll play next year in college at Georgia. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Each season she’s played high school basketball at Davidson Day, Maya Caldwell has enjoyed personal success, but she and her teammates have also endured postseason heartbreak:

▪ Freshman year, Davidson Day lost in the N.C. 2A Independent Schools’ state finals to Carolina Day.

▪ Sophomore year, Davidson Day lost in the state semifinals to Northside Christian.

▪ Junior year, Davidson Day lost in the state finals - again to Carolina Day.

As her senior season winds down, Caldwell is making it a personal mission to finish her high school career as a champion. She’s averaging 23 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals. She’s raised her scoring average to 28 points per game in a five-game run that has seen Davidson Day (14-3) - No. 5 in the Observer’s Sweet 16 - win five straight before Monday’s home game against Salem Baptist (19-5).

“It’s my senior year,” said Caldwell, who signed a scholarship with Georgia, “so I don’t want to look back and have any regrets. So I want to play with all I’ve got. And I’m not doing this just for myself. I’m playing for my family, my teammates and the Lord. And I have to represent.”

Davidson Day coach Jeff Lafave has also noticed a change in his star player, a 6-foot guard who was a first-team Observer pick and N.C. private school all-state selection last season.

“She’s sensing that it’s that time of year, from mid-to-late January,” said Lafave, whose record is 40-6 in two seasons. “She’s getting close to the end of her career. There’s about a month to go and then she’s moving on to Georgia. She’s focused on the end of her high school career.”

Caldwell said she chose Georgia because it’s where she’d love attending even if there wasn’t basketball. She said she feels the same about Davidson Day, which is why she’s so passionate about winning a state title this season.

“I’m very determined,” she said. “I can’t even explain how determined. I feel like it’s my only option. I’ve been put in that position way too many times and given way too many opportunities to not graduate high school with a state championship ring. I have to take it.”

Lafave said Caldwell talks constantly about winning that elusive title, and she’s playing at a high level. Caldwell had a career-high 40 points in a win against Concord First Assembly last week, and First Assembly is a team with a realistic shot at winning a state title. But also standing in the way is six-time state champion Carolina Day, which beat Davidson Day 43-34 in the state final last season and again in November, 66-43, at Davidson Day.

“She’s always talked about winning states,” LaFave said. “It’s always been a goal of hers. I think that’s eating at her and she wants to finish what she started. In my short time knowing her, she’s a really driven kid.”

Many mornings, Caldwell will meet Lafave at school for 5:30 a.m. shooting and weight-lifting workouts. Often after practices, she will ask for additional time for shooting and lifting weights.

“She gets it,” Lafave said. “That’s why she’s such a pleasure to coach. She’s a good teammate. She’s talented and you like to be around good people like that who get what they deserve.”

Wertz: 704-358-5133; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr

Maya on the move

In her past five games, Davidson Day senior Maya Caldwell has averaged 28 points




SouthLake Christian

W, 68-17

20 points, 5 rebounds, 5 steals, 3 assists

Charlotte Latin

W, 68-54

28 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals

Freedom Christian

W, 62-52

26 points, 4 assists, 3 steals, 3 rebounds

Northwood Temple*

W, 62-59

26 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals

Concord First Assembly

W, 80-63

40 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals

* 2016 NCISAA 1A state champ