The Virginia Lottery began donating money to the state’s public schools with its inception in 1987.
Now the Lottery is contributing something else.
The girls basketball coaches and players from William Fleming and Patrick Henry will be glued to screens tonight, but not to watch the Duke-North Carolina men’s game.
No, they will log on for something far more relevant:
The Virginia Lottery’s Pick 3 drawing.
Forget the Blue Devils and Tar Heels. To the girls from PH and Fleming, the tumbling ping-pong balls late tonight represent must-see video.
OK, take a deep breath.
The Western Valley District — the five-school Group AAA league that includes PH, Fleming, Franklin County, George Washington and Halifax County — is using the Virginia Lottery drawing as one of its methods to break ties for second on third place in its regular-season standings.
In girls basketball, Patrick Henry and William Fleming tied for third place with 3-5 district records. The Patriots and Colonels split their two head-to-head games. The next criterion — results against higher-finishing teams — did not break the tie either.
Therefore, the deadlock will be broken by the final WVD tie-breaker.
Here’s how it works.
Each of the five WVD schools is listed alphabetically: (F)ranklin County, (G)eorge Washington, (H)alifax County, (P)atrick Henry, (W)illiam Fleming.
Take two tied schools. The one listed first alphabetically — in this case, Patrick Henry — is the “even” team. Fleming is the “odd” team.
Now you know your ABCs.
What does it all mean?
When the three balls are drawn, their total numerical value will determine whether PH or Fleming is the No. 3 seed for next week’s district tournament.
If the total is an even number, PH is the No. 3 seed, avoiding a potential season-ending semifinal game against undefeated Halifax County. If the total is an odd number, the No. 3 seed is Fleming.
If the whole process sounds odd, here’s the rationale, courtesy of Franklin County athletic director T.J. Shepardson.
The WVD wanted to remove the human element from any drawing or coin flip, basically to eliminate any conspiracy theorist’s suspicion of the thing being rigged.
Are there that many two-headed coins between Roanoke and South Boston?
The Franklin County AD said there’s another more practical reason to the nightly Pick 3 drawing.
The WVD uses the drawing that takes place on the final night of the regular-season, which concludes tonight with GW’s girls playing Franklin County.
That way, teams can learn their seeding mere hours after playing their last game instead of waiting until the following day for a coin flip.
Of course in this case, PH and Fleming knew they would finish tied after Tuesday’s games and could have used the Tuesday Pick 3.
Since the Virginia Lottery discontinued its televised Pick 3 drawing a year ago, PH and Fleming fans must log on to www.valottery.com tonight at 11 to watch the live drawing.
Even or odd? Follow the bouncing balls.