By MATT SCHUCKMAN
Herald-Whig Sports Editor
The answers were so close to being identical, you might have thought they were rehearsed.
Well, they weren't.
It just so happens the Quincy High School boys basketball players are so in sync right now that when asked what sets this team apart they come up with the same response.
It's all about chemistry.
"I trust everyone on this team," senior guard Zach Burry said. "We have a lot of good people. I trust every one of them."
Senior forward Connor Mellon said the chemistry is the best he's experienced playing high school basketball.
"When you have everyone working together, everything flows," Mellon said. "We play a ton better."
It's going to take a complete effort for the Blue Devils to challenge in the Western Big Six Conference or play for a regional title. Two of Quincy's regular season foes -- Rock Island and Monmouth-Roseville -- open the season ranked in the top 10 in their respective classes, while traditional postseason roadblock Edwardsville is No. 6 in Class 4A.
Meanwhile, Quincy received a vote in the state ranking despite not returning a player who averaged more than 6.2 points per game last season.
That's OK with the Blue Devils. They don't expect to produce anyone who averages 20 points per game. They're content with five, six or seven guys averaging six or seven points per game.
"We know it's going to be someone different every night," Burry said. "The scoring is going to be throughout the team. We're going to have 10 people on the scoreboard probably."
That's a good problem to have.
"We have so many guys that can do things that there's not much separation," Quincy coach Sean Taylor said. "They're competing and battling every day in practice. It's fun to watch different guys have better practices on certain days. The level of competition is so close between it's been a lot of fun to watch them compete."
It leaves the coaching staff in a quandary of figuring out which lineup works the best.
"It could be game to game. It could be within a game," Taylor said of determining the right rotation. "We're going to play a lot of guys."
There's going to be a mix of styles, too, depending on which players are on the floor.
"We have all different kinds of lineups -- our tall lineup, our quick lineup, a little mix of lineups," Burry said. "It's going to be hard to game plan against us."
One thing opponents must respect is Quincy's size. Mellon, at 6-foot-4, is a hard-nosed defender and rebounder who averaged 6.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per game and is the only returning starter. Luka Radovic, a 6-8 senior, show moments of dominance last season and is expected to be more consistent this year.
Throw in senior forward Barnell Thomas and it's the most experienced group the Blue Devils have.
"So they have to be productive for us, and I think they will be," Taylor said.
They know they have to be.
"We have to work on finishing in the paint and getting more rebounds," Mellon said. "We have to continue to get better."
The same will be expected of the backcourt.
Burry is the top gunner, coming off a season in which he made 27 3-pointers, and will be complimented by senior guard Alec Shoot and sophomore swingman Jacob Jobe.
"I just need to make my shots that I get," Burry said. "I have to take advantage of the opportunities I have. I don't need to push the situation, just let it come to me."
Junior guard Lincoln Elbe will run the point, with sophomores Mike Dade and Cameron and Carson Gay logging significant minutes.
"Everybody is going to have to play their role," Elbe said. "There are going to be times when one person hits a shot or another person gets on a roll. It's going to take everybody for us to succeed.
"I'm really anxious just to see who steps up and who plays well."