The Gardiner Area High School boys basketball team is about to play in the state championship game for the first time, to the delight of many fans in the city.

Norma and Darrell Porter no longer live in Gardiner, they’re just up the road in Farmingdale, but they’re among the most excited Tiger fans. Married for 34 years, the Porters have been going to Gardiner games and cheering on the Tigers together for decades.

“This is the best team we can remember. This team isn’t one star. They just work together,” Norma said.

Gardiner (19-2) will take on Yarmouth (17-4) in the Class B state championship game Friday night at the Bangor Auditorium. Tip off is scheduled for 8:45 p.m.

Norma has been a Gardiner fan for more than 60 years. Her daughter, Patricia Carlson and granddaughter Melissa Smart, were Gardiner cheerleaders, and a grandson, Jerrime Collins, played sports for the Tigers. A member of Gardiner High’s Class of 1949, Norma left school to get married, eventually attending night school and receiving her diploma in 1981.

A native of Oakfield in Aroostook County, Darrell began following the Tigers with Norma decades ago. Early on this season, Darrell thought the Tigers had the potential to make a deep playoff run.

“The way they handle the ball, I just thought this is the year,” he said.

Norma thought the Tigers would be good, but never envisioned a regional title. But why would she? It had never happened before.

“I figured they’d put on a decent showing. I never expected this,” she said.

The Porters attend every home basketball and football game, and some road games. Norma missed a few football games this fall recovering from heart surgery. When she was ready to return, she and Darrell made sure to arrive at the gym early so they could get their usual seats in the back row of the bleachers.

“You have to get there early, during the JV games,” Norma said.

Norma didn’t want to predict the score of Friday’s game, but said if the Tigers play as well as they did in the Eastern Maine tournament, she likes their chances.

“Yarmouth has to be good, but if they play anything like they did last week, they’ll be tough to beat.”

The Porters said they haven’t seen a Gardiner team supported by the town like this in some time.

“They’ve really brought the town together,” Darrell said. “I think it’s great for the town.”

Added Norma: “We figure they’re all our kids.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

 

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