Bombs away: Isler nets 29, reaches milestone in win

VERNON – Although Windham’s Jessica Isler needed 14 points in the Bombers’ matchup with Badger to surpass 1,000 points in her basketball career, coach Gregg Isler didn’t seem confident about her chances prior to tip off.

Her coach had little reason to be nervous, as Jessica scored her 14th point of the game – and the 1,000th point in her career – at the 3:55 mark in the second quarter. Lexi Knight stole a pass at halfcourt and dished a pass to Jessica on the leftside low block for an easy layup.

“I don’t know if she was looking to get it out of the way, but it didn’t take long,” Gregg said. “They were trying to take some things away inside, and she was able to make a couple quick shots, which is kind of nice, get it out of the way.”

Getting the ceremony out of the way early proved to be a sound strategy, as Jessica’s night was just getting started in a 72-56 win at Badger High School. Jessica amassed a game-high 29 points for the Bombers (10-2, 6-2 Northeastern Athletic Conference), including 10 of the team’s 13 points in the third quarter when the Bombers struggled offensively.

The 5-foot-6 point guard started her offensive onslaught on the first possession of the game. After Windham won the tip, Jessica took a couple of dribbles before launching a 3-pointer that swished into the net. With Badger (7-6, 2-6 NAC) deploying a 2-3 zone, this was just the start, as she hit five 3s in the game.

“That’s one of my favorite moves – fake the pass and pull up and shoot,” Jessica said. “It got me going. When I made that first shot, I knew I’d be all right.”

While the point total was impressive, Jessica did more than just put up points – she also set up her teammates. The junior came two assists shy of a double-double, and she had three in the final 4 minutes, as Windham went on a 17-5 run to pull away.

“Points are a lot of what people look at, but when you see the face on the person you pass it to and they made a nice finish, I like that a lot,” Jessica said.

Things weren’t looking good for the Bombers early, when the Braves took a five-point lead out of the first quarter and led by eight with 5:33 remaining in the second. Gregg called a timeout and implemented a full-court press, which changed the flow of the game. Windham finished the quarter on a 19-7 run and took the lead for good at the 3:03 mark on a basket in the lane by Dari Heller, who finished with 16 points.

“Trying to get something going,” Gregg said of the press. “We hadn’t been doing that a whole lot. We were a little lethargic, and they were making some shots. We had to change something up.”

The Braves didn’t go away and came with four points, 55-51, when Harlee Logan scored a field goal in the lane with 4:33 left in the game, but that was as close as they could get. Logan paced the Braves with 16 points, while Taylor Kramer had 15, 13 of which came in the first quarter.

Badger coach Dusty Karr said this was another scoreline that didn’t do his team justice.

“I like the direction (the program) is going in,” Karr said. “It’s kind of frustrating looking up at the end of the night and seeing a 72-56 score or a couple of the other games that we lost by 12 points when they were close games. When you’re within single digits, a couple of possessions, it’s nice we’re there, but we want to finish those games off.”

As for Jessica, she said despite knowing the 1,000-point milestone was there, she only cared about leaving Badger with a win.

“That’s all I was hoping for – to get out of here (with a win),” Jessica said. “The 1,000th point was in the back of my head, but I just wanted to win.”