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By Colin Harris | Staff Writer
Basketball has just always been a part of Windham sophomore guard Jessica Isler's life.
Besides just growing up in basketball-crazed Windham, the daughter of current Bombers girls coach Gregg Isler spent much of her formative years on the hardwood.
Years before suiting up for her father as a freshman -- and playing alongside sister Caitlin Isler -- Jessica Isler spent hours watching her father coach the LaBrae boys basketball team.
"(Basketball) is just something Jessica has always been involved with," Gregg Isler said. "I think that Jess has been around the game so much that she's been able to model a lot of how she plays just by watching the sport so much."
That comfort level of the game helped Isler step right in last season, leading the Bombers in scoring (16.3 points) as she quickly emerged as one of the best shooters in the PTC.
Isler was far from the first girl to suit up as a freshman on varsity, but the now-sophomore sharp-shooter said that trading shots with juniors and seniors was not much of a hurdle.
"For me, I've been around basketball for so long that I just knew what to expect," Isler said of her freshman season. "I was kind of nervous for the first few games, but after that, (playing on varsity) just wasn't a big deal."
Her father long before he ever was her coach, Gregg Isler said that Jessica's quick dive into the deep end of varsity basketball -- and subsequent production -- really was not a big surprise.
"Jessica has always had an analytical view of the world and how she interacts with everything around her," Isler said of his daughter's calm and determined mindset. "She has always had access to the kind of things she needs (to improve as a player), but she knows what she needs to do to get better and works hard at it."
As teammates like sophomore forward Dari Heller and freshmen newcomers Brittany Knight and Samantha Dean have come along, Isler's scoring (14.9 points) have slightly dipped in her sophomore year.
While raw scoring is down for his daughter, Gregg Isler said the improvement in Jessica's game is obvious to anyone who watches the Bombers play.
"Jessica shot 60 percent from the free-throw line last year and she's at 78 percent now," Isler said. "It's little things like that that tell me she's putting in the work to improve her game."
With big sister Caitlin and her ball-handling skills gone from this year's team, Jessica has been one of the players asked to handle more of a point guard role in 2012-13.
Gregg Isler said that while asking a young player to step right in for a reliable four-year varsity starter like Caitlin Isler and run the point guard position is unfair to ask, someone has to advance the ball and start Windham's offense.
To that end, Jessica Isler has embraced the responsibility, using ball handling duties as an opportunity to excise a major flaw from her already-solid game.
"Being comfortable handling the ball was a big goal for me this season," Isler said. "There were times that turnovers killed me, so I wanted to get that out of my game and go from there.
"I think I'm a lot more comfortable handling the ball," Isler added. "When Caitlin was out of games last season, (ball handling) was not something I wanted to have to do."