'Cats hang tough in loss; Oakmont seals win on late run.

Position:SPORTS
 
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Byline: John McGuirk

GARDNER - The last thing Tim Caouette is concerned with right now is records. The things that matter most to the Gardner High boys' basketball coach are progression and transforming a raw group of youngsters into a solid basketball team down the road.

Perhaps Caouette got his first true look at that last night as his undermanned Wildcats gave playoff-bound Oakmont Regional all it could handle before succumbing late, 53-43, at LaChance Gymnasium.

What Caouette has had to endure in one season, many coaches don't experience in five. Detrimental and personal issues have played a major factor in why the Wildcats only dress eight players - none of whom are seniors.

Yet, in spite of the turmoil, Caouette's enthusiasm and don't-feel-sorry-for-us attitude seem to be paying dividends. Gardner (4-15) matched its neighboring rivals all night long before fatigue finally set in. With little more than three minutes to play, Gardner was down by three before the tank began to run dry.

"The kids have heart and worked real hard tonight, so I'm very pleased with their effort," Caouette said. "At the end, we just got outmuscled by a very good and well-coached team. We didn't back down against them. That's a credit to our kids. They're tough and they battle."

Over the final 2:25, Oakmont went on a 10-3 run, with some key inside buckets coming from Greg Beaudoin, to seal the victory and erase a two-game losing streak by...

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