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Kemps motivated to keep 'dream' season as teammates going as long as possible


Corey Kemp enjoyed a superb start to Nixa’s post-season, scoring 15 points against Ozark and 16 versus Joplin in the first two rounds of Class 6 District 5 play last week.

It’s likely fueled Kemp’s fire knowing any game could be the senior guard’s finale in an Eagles uniform and alongside his younger brother, Devon.

“Thinking about not playing with him next year, it makes me a little uneasy because I like having him there with me,” Corey said entering Nixa’s District title tilt against Kickapoo. “Growing up, we’ve played together pretty much in any sport we’ve done.”  

This season has been the best of times for the Kemps. They’ve emerged as regulars in coach Brock Blansit’s rotation, with Corey starting all season and Devon being one of the first backups to be called upon.

Devon’s shining moment came in Nixa’s 65-62 regular-season win versus Kickapoo. He nailed a tying 3-pointer with 1:35 remaining as part of the Eagles’ comeback from a seven-point deficit over the final two-plus minutes.

Devon scored nine points last week against Joplin.

Younger brother has also treasured having his older brother as a teammate and is motivated to keep that bond alive as long as possible.

“This is a dream. It’s amazing,” Devon said. “Knowing this is his last season (at Nixa) and my last season playing with him, it makes me want to play twice as hard and have us go as far as we can.”

The Kemps have grown accustomed to being mistaken for each other. After Devon made a 3-pointer against Joplin, the public-address announcer referred to it as a 3 by Corey.

They sport a quick smile anytime they are mistaken for each other.

“We look alike, he’s just taller,” Devon said.

He adds they act alike, as well.

“We’re very similar,” Devon said. “We like the same things. We’re basically the same. We’re both competitive in everything we do. We’ve been raised competitive.”

Being only a year apart, they’ve had the advantage of having all the competition they could ask for at home 24/7/365. They have a basketball goal at home and it has been the sight of fierce contests over the years. 

“We play one-on-one all the time to 21,” Corey said. “Sometimes, he beats me and sometimes I beat him. He pushes me to be better. It makes us both stronger.”

"We get at it quite a bit,” Devon said. “It’s pretty even, some days (he wins), some days me.”

Most often this season, Corey and Devon haven’t been on the court at the same time. But they did play together for an extended stretch last week against Joplin. 

“Corey and Devon usually (defend) the other team’s best player. They kind of rotate and take turns,” Blansit said. “Sometimes they play together, sometimes they don’t. It’s not something I do or don’t do intentionally. It’s kind of just a feel.”

The Kemps often are side-by-side to and from practices and games. They’re not just brothers, they’re best friends.

"They’re really close. You can tell they get along well. Now their parents may say otherwise at home," Blansit joked. “They give each other a hard time like brothers do. They’re tight.

“The second half of the season they’e been a huge lift for us,” he added. "The ball-handling for Devon the second half of the season has been incredible. He’s had very few turnovers. They’re both making big shots. I’m happy for them.”