At Missouri State
After leading the Missouri Valley Conference in scoring with an 18.5 ppg. average en route to earning first team all-conference honors in 2006-07, Tahnee Balerio will once again be the driving force behind the Lady Bear offense in 2007-08. The senior from Buhler, Kan., will be looking to leave her mark on the Missouri State record book after accounting for over 30 percent of the Lady Bears' offense last year. Balerio has already cracked several Missouri State career top 10 lists; she currently ranks eighth all-time in free-throw percentage (.821) and three-point field-goal attempts (304), and ninth in three-point field-goals made (95). Entering the 2007-08 season, she needs 74 assists and just 24 free throws to reach the career top 10 charts for those categories. Additionally, Balerio is just 135 points away from becoming the 19th player in school history to reach the career 1,000-point mark.
Balerio emerged as not only a capable team leader in her junior season, but also one of the Valley's brightest stars. The 5-6 point guard was a First Team All-MVC pick after leading the Lady Bears in scoring 19 times and assists in 26 of MSU's 28 contests. She registered 25 double-digit scoring games and had 10 outings of 20 points or more. Balerio's 39-point outburst versus Oregon is the 15th-highest single-game total in MSU history, while her 519 points for the season ranks 12th all-time. In addition to leading the conference and ranking 35th nationally in scoring, Balerio finished among the league's statistical leaders in a number of categories. Her 4.9 assists per contest ranked third in the MVC, as did her 36.6 minute and 2.3 three-point field-goal per game averages. Balerio also posted top 10 MVC finishes in steals (6th), free-throw percentage (4th) and assist-turnover ratio (9th), while her scoring average rated as the tenth-best all-time at Missouri State. With her 32-point effort versus Drake on Feb. 25, Balerio joined Jackie Stiles and Jenni Lingor as the only players in Lady Bear history to post four 30-point contests in a single season. Balerio averaged 18.5 ppg. in losses to Iowa (Nov. 11) and Seton Hall (Nov. 12) to earn WBCA Classic All-Tournament honors, including a then-career-best 23-point performance in the Lady Bears' season-opening, 79-70 loss to the Hawkeyes. She came through in a big way for her injury-riddled squad in a 71-56 win over Oregon (Dec. 16), going 10-of-15 from the field and posting career-highs of 39 points and eight rebounds while matching a school record with 20 free-throw attempts. That performance netted Balerio her first career MVC Player of the Week honor (Dec. 18), as well as Prairie Farms/MVC Scholar-Athlete of the Week (Dec. 21) recognition. She followed up her career game by hitting a game-winning three-pointer as time expired vs. Western Illinois (Dec. 21) to cap a 16-point night. Balerio surpassed the 500 career scoring mark in the closing minutes of MSU's loss to Southern Illinois (Dec. 30). She scored all of her 18 points in the second half and hit three three-pointers to lead a 16-5 spurt that erased an 11-point deficit in the closing minutes of an eventual 82-72 loss at Evansville (Jan. 1) and led the Lady Bears with 21 points and five assists before spraining her right ankle late in a 75-67 loss to Wichita State (Jan. 7). Against Indiana State (Jan. 11), Balerio topped the 20-point plateau for the fifth time in 2006-07 in an 83-76 win; she also handed out a season-high nine assists while playing 38 minutes on a ginger right ankle. Her string of 13-straight double-figure scoring games came to an end with an eight-point performance in a 76-47 loss at Illinois State (Jan. 13). Balerio matched her season high with nine assists vs. Bradley (Jan. 21), then scored 15 points, handed out six assists and recorded a career-high six steals while playing all 40 minutes of the Lady Bears' 61-51 loss at Creighton (Jan. 25); she recorded her 600th career point in the loss to the Bluejays. In an eventual 82-76 loss at Drake (Jan. 27), the junior guard was a perfect 10-of-10 from the charity stripe and completed the Lady Bears' second-half comeback bid by knocking down a three-pointer with 1.2 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Balerio matched her career-high with six steals and notched her third 30+ point game of the season with a 35-point effort vs. Bradley in a 78-75 loss in Peoria on Feb. 15, tallying 19 points in the final six minutes of regulation; she also surpassed the 700-point plateau for her MSU career in the loss. Two days later, she scored 21 points in MSU's 90-72 loss at UNI. Balerio scored 15 of her 19 points and handed out 10 of her career-high 12 assists in the second half to help the Lady Bears snap an eight-game losing streak with a 70-60 win over Creighton (Feb. 23). In an 81-68 loss to Drake (Feb. 25), she was perfect (6-of-6) from the foul line and 11-of-21 from the floor. Balerio also earned accolades for her work in the classroom, picking up MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team honors, as well as selection to ESPN The Magazine's Academic All-District VII Second Team by the College Sports Information Directors of America.
Balerio saw action in 26 games for the Lady Bears, starting 13 contests and averaging 8.2 points and 3.3 assists per game in a solid sophomore season. The 5-6 guard capped the year with a 15-point performance in the Lady Bears' 64-55 win over Indiana State in the State Farm MVC Tournament championship to wrap up all-tournament honors. Tahnee also garnered MVC Scholar-Athlete Honorable Mention after posting a 3.76 GPA. Balerio scored 12 points in back-to-back games, at Wichita State (Mar. 4) and in the Lady Bears' State Farm MVC Tournament first-round, 69-64 victory over Bradley (March 9). Tahnee hit her only two three-point attempts and dished out four assists in 27 minutes of action in a 76-46 home win over Indiana State (Feb. 17). At Evansville (Feb. 12) Balerio went 3-of-5 from the field with seven points in her first game back after breaking a finger at the end of the first half of Missouri State's 64-55 loss at Illinois State (Jan. 20) and missing six games. Balerio led the Lady Bears with a career-high 22 points at 10th-ranked DePaul (Dec.10) after posting the first double-double of her career against Arkansas-Pine Bluff (Nov. 30) with a 12-point, 11-assist performance in a 72-45 MSU victory. Tahnee turned in another double-double against Oral Roberts (Dec. 20) when she scored 10 points and dished out 10 assists in a 90-85 MSU win. Against 16th-ranked Oklahoma (Dec. 10), Balerio scored 18 points and hauled in four rebounds. She also handed out four assists in the contest and did not commit a turnover in 37 minutes of action.
The Buhler, Kan., native saw significant action early in her freshman year after Kari Koch was sidelined with an injury for the first six games of the season. Balerio averaged 3.2 points per game and turned in 53 assists in her first season as a Lady Bear. Balerio scored her first points of the WNIT in Missouri State's semifinal match-up with Iowa with a second-half three-point bucket during a decisive 10-2 run that put the Lady Bears ahead of the Hawkeyes to stay. Balerio put up a then-career-high nine points against Drake (Jan. 21), going 3-of-4 from the field and 2-of-2 from the free-throw line. She repeated that performance at Southern Illinois (Feb. 5), posting nine points, including seven in a one-minute span, five assists and one steal. Tahnee earned the first start of her collegiate career against Illinois State (Jan. 14), turning in five points and four assists in 20 minutes of play. She followed that up with a career-high six rebounds against Indiana State (Jan.16). Against Bradley (Jan. 1) Balerio turned in one of the best games of her debut season, scoring seven points and handing out three assists.
Balerio was named to the Kansas all-state first team as a sophomore and senior and was honored on the second team as a junior. In her senior campaign, the 5-6 guard posted 17.4 points, 6.9 assists and five rebounds per game. Balerio set the school record for career assists, as well as the Buhler High record for three-point field goals in a game with six. Coached by her father as a senior, Balerio finished third on the Crusaders' all-time scoring list. In her sophomore, junior and senior seasons, Balerio helped lead her team to second-place sub-state finishes. Balerio also played volleyball and participated in track and field at BHS.
The daughter of Andy and Sue Balerio, Tahnee Alyse was born March 26, 1986, in Hutchinson, Kan. Tahnee has one sister, Annalisa, and is majoring in private and commercial recreation. She chose the Lady Bears over Kansas State, Colorado, Missouri and Kansas.