Thanks to everyone who responded. I considered your advice carefully and decided to go with a (new) Lamson Litespeed 1.5 Hard Alox that I found online for $164. (This was a closeout, since Lamson just came out with a Hard Alox 2.) I do like the Lamson drag, and for almost 50% off, could justify spending the money on a higher-end reel.
Again, thanks for the thoughtful advice.