KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The second-ranked Piper High School girls basketball team’s strength is pressure defense. One of the weaknesses in the past for Ottawa has been handling the press.

The young players showed some maturity from a year ago against the Piper pressure in Friday night’s season opener in Kansas City, Kan., but in the end the Pirates were too strong for Ottawa. The Cyclones fell 66-27.

“We showed some strength of handling their press better,” Ottawa coach Matt Schurman said. “We handled their press. We ran our press break fairly well. We did better than our players thought they were going to. They lost by 70 last year and we cut that down to 30. There are a lot of things this team can do and surprise people.”

Piper threw another wrinkle at Ottawa — the trap. The Pirates trapped Ottawa at midcourt after the Cyclones broke the press.

“We got trapped a couple of times late in the press at half court,” Schurman said. “We have room for improvement on traps.”

Schurman said Ottawa showed signs of running the offense, which was changed from last year.

“We changed quite a bit,” Schurman said. “We challenged them quite a bit. Their point guard was phenomenal. She disrupted everything we were trying to do. Once, we got used to what she was trying to do, we got some good shots. They were not falling.”

Schurman said his young squad never got down on themselves.

“These girls are tough,” he said. “We are an undersized team and did a good job on the offensive boards. We played strong. We competed better every quarter. Offensively, we were able to get some screens going. We will get our shooters going. They will hit some shots this year. There is a lot of things we can take away from this. I loved they are fighting.”

Sophomore Kirsten Evans paced Ottawa with nine points.

Ottawa (0-1) plays Tuesday at Topeka Highland Park.

Piper (66) — Vazquez 21, Serrano 2, Porter 12, Guilbeaux 4, Banes 10, Bruce 2, Carter 13, Covington 2.

Ottawa (27) — Titus 4, Curtis 5, Ficken 3, Hadl 2 K. Evans 9, Gollier 2, Hornbuckle 2.