Following a prosperous run at Marion High School, which includes a pair of conference titles and the 2019 Class 5A boys basketball championship, veteran coach David Clark resigned his post on Monday afternoon to pursue other opportunities.
“We are forever grateful and appreciative of Coach Clark for his efforts in building and promoting our boys basketball program,” said Marion athletic director Derek Harrell. “We know that Coach Clark will be successful in any endeavor he decides to turn his attention to next.”
Clark exits Marion after recording a final record for 108-37 over five seasons, good for a 75 percent winning percentage.
The Little Rock native took the reins of Marion's basketball program in time for the 2018-2019 season, and he wasted little time leaving his impact on the program as his first club raced to a 25-3 final overall record, with a 14-0 run to the 5A East conference title. The Patriots outlasted state powerhouse Little Rock Hall on March 7, 2019 for a 57-54 overtime victory that gave MHS its first boys basketball title in program history.
Marion returned to the state semifinals the following season before losing a heartbreaker in the final seconds to Jacksonville and University of Arkansas standout Devo Davis.
An 18-4 final mark in 2020-2021 set the stage for Marion's third finals appearance ever, and second in four seasons as the 2021-2022 Pats finished 25-8 overall, as conference runners-up, and state runners-up after losing to Jonesboro in Hot Springs.
Expectations for the 2022-2023 Patriots were all over the place after the departure of four expected starters over the off-season, but Marion fashioned a 24-8 final mark before losing in the state quarterfinals to eventual state runners-up Lake Hamilton in the state tournament at Pine Bluff.
“This was a very difficult decision to make because this place has meant so much to me since I arrived here,” said Clark. “I'll always cherish the memories that I had here. I'm proud of the success that we've had here, and I’ll never forget the thrills that we had working with our players and coaches. No matter where I go, a piece of me will always be in Marion.”
Marion also announced that it has promoted lead assistant coach Emmanuel Wade to succeed Clark as head boys basketball coach at MHS.
Wade, who was a star basketball player at Marianna before he played for some of the better Ole Miss men's basketball teams of all time, got into coaching following graduation.
After a short stint as an assistant girls basketball coach at Forrest City, Wade returned home to Marianna to take over a boys basketball program that had fallen to 1-21 in the 2018-2019 season.
That wouldn't last long.
In a single off-season, Wade resurrected the Trojans, as Marianna went 29-5 in 2019-2020, racing to the semifinals that season before losing a hard-fought game to Earle.
That only set the stage for what was to come under Wade.
In his second season at the helm of Marianna-Lee, Wade's Trojans lost their season-opener to mighty Little Rock Parkview, but ran the table after that, dominating the competition on its way to the state final where Marianna Lee outlasted Caddo Valley 62-55 in double overtime for the school's second state title ever, and first since 1983.
Wade wrapped his unbelievable run at Marianna in 2021-2022 with a 20-8 season that ended in a heartbreaking 54-53 semifinal loss to Magnet Cove.
In all, Wade logged a 72-14 record (84 percent) at Marianna, guiding the Trojans to three conference titles, two semifinal runs, and a state championship.
Wade succeeded Ron Talley as Marion's lead boys assistant and head junior varsity coach in May 2022.
“I am excited to get started because have great kids, great tradition, great facilities, and unbelievable support from our community and administration,” said Wade. “We are very lucky here to have passionate and supportive people who care about this program. Marion is a great place to be right now, and I can’t wait to get started.”
AD Harrell said, “When one door closes another always opens- so we are extremely fortunate to have a great talent like Coach Wade already in our Patriot family- ready to take on additional leadership responsibilities. Without question, we are excited to see what the future holds for our Patriot Basketball program.”